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The Daily Tar Heel

Supreme Court will hear case for transgender students' rights in public schools

The case concerns Gavin Grimm, a trans-male high school student who was told by the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia that he could not use the boys’ restroom.

The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals sided with Grimm on the grounds that Title IX, a federal law issued in 1972, protects students from discrimination based on sex.

The Gloucester County School Board appealed the case to the Supreme Court. In August, before the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, it voted to stay the lower court’s decision.

Mike Meno, spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said Grimm cannot use the boys’ restroom for the time being.

Maxine Eichner, a professor at the UNC School of Law, said holds are not issued with every case the Supreme Court hears.

“It does suggest, to some extent, that there are members of the Court who think they may reverse this decision,” she said.

Eichner said the issue the Court will be considering is the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX.

The Department of Education issued a statement of guidance to public schools in May concerning the rights of transgender students.

“A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” the statement said.

If the Supreme Court sides with Grimm, Eichner said, it would mean the Department of Education’s statement would be upheld. The question of the lawfulness of House Bill 2 in respect to Title IX would also be settled, she said.

“Which would mean that schools that are covered by Title IX would either have to comply with the policies that allows transgender students access to the bathrooms that match their gender identity or lose Title IX funding,” Eichner said.

If the court rules in favor of Gloucester County School Board, it does not absolutely mean that HB2 is lawful under Title IX, but that would most likely be the decision, Eichner said.

“This is about more than just one student using the restroom, this is a question about federal law and whether sex discrimination laws should protect transgender students,” Meno said.


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